A York City man accused of creeping into his neighbor's adjoining townhouse and stabbing her to death last summer is asking a judge to rule his police statements inadmissible at trial.
Jovon D. Jones, 29, formerly of 881 Fahs St., is accused of the May 16, 2011, home-invasion slaying of 42-year-old Alesia Martin. He remains in county prison without bail, charged with first-degree murder, burglary and theft.
York City Police allege Martin was asleep when Jones crept into her bedroom after getting into her home, apparently through a crawlspace that connects the two townhouses.
At a nearly four-hour suppression hearing on Thursday, public defender James Rader argued that Jones' partial confession shouldn't be heard at trial.
On tape: After Jones said he didn't want to talk, York City Detective First Class Jeff Spence kept speaking with Jones for eight minutes before ending the interview.
However, Spence testified he didn't ask Jones any questions during those eight minutes -- that he was explaining to Jones what was going to happen next, including that Spence was going to confer with the county district attorney's office to see what charges to file against Jones.
Also on that tape, Spence tells Jones he thought they'd established a relationship, or at least some trust between them.
"It speaks for itself," Spence said of the eight-minute portion of the videotape.
"You don't think that was somewhat coercive?" Rader asked.
"I don't," the detective replied.
Changed mind: Spence told the judge he had Jones sit on a bench and wait while Spence typed up some documents related to the homicide case. About 45 minutes later, Jones told detectives he'd changed his mind and wanted to resume the interview, according to Spence.
Spence said he got Jones back into the interview room so the exchange could be videotaped.
That recording shows Spence re-advising Jones of his right to remain silent. On tape, Jones waives that right, then tells detectives he has "blackouts" and might have killed Martin without remembering it.
Judge Kennedy said he will take the suppression motion under consideration and rule later.
'Confident': After the hearing, chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker said he's "extremely confident" Kennedy will deny the suppression motion, because the prosecution has the law on its side.
That law requires police to "scrupulously honor" a suspect's decision to invoke his Miranda rights, Barker said, adding that's exactly what Spence did.
But Rader disagreed.
"Even though he wasn't grilling him with questions ... to me, he was 'working' on Jovon Jones," Rader said. "It's our position (Spence) planted ideas in Jovon's head. How do you know that continued conversation ... didn't taint Jovon's decision (to resume the police interview)?"
Warrant issue: Rader also addressed a second suppression issue at Thursday's hearing.
He argued that all evidence seized from Jones' home should be inadmissible at trial because of what he called mistakes and omissions in the search warrant application.
But Common Pleas Judge John S. Kennedy denied that motion from the bench, saying the search-warrant application was "certainly substantially correct."
The background: Jones caught the attention of detectives after telling The York Dispatch and other media outlets he helped Martin's family members get into her home and find her body. Jones described the crime scene in great detail to reporters.
Martin's loved ones saw those media reports, knew Jones hadn't viewed the crime scene while they were with him and alerted detectives, documents state.
Jones eventually admitted he had a blackout, but remembers being in Martin's room, and remembers her screaming and falling down, police allege.
While searching Jones' townhouse, investigators found the victim's cell phone hidden in Jones' bedroom closet, and also found high concentrations of suspected blood, including on a bucket and mop and on Jones' clothing, documents state.
-- Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.